Once a week, Black Balloon's editorial assistant Kate Gavino chooses the best Q and the best A from one of New York's literary in-store events. Here, she draws from R.L. Stine's reading at Barnes & Noble Union Square on October 25. In lieu of a traditional Q&A, Stine decided to ask the young, rambunctious audience to help him write a quick horror story.
R.L. Stine: I need a good boy's name. Anyone?
Stine: Alright. Dad comes home and says, “Guess what? I bought a new car. Well, it's not exactly new. It's kind of beat up. I don't know why the guy who sold it to me was so eager to get rid of it.” Philip is so excited he runs down to the street to take a look at the car. What does the car look like?
Audience: It's a Toyota!
Stine: What else about the car?
Audience: It's brown and rusty.
Stine: It's kind of beat up, but Philip doesn't care. He says, “I want to see what it feels like just to sit behind the wheel.” He opens the car door and when he does, he hears a girls voice. So we need a good girls name.
Stine: Okay, that's a nice name. Abalana says, “I'm new in your neighborhood, Philip. Can I try out your car, too?” Philip says, “Sure. Hop in.” Abalana jumps into the backseat and Philip gets into the front seat, closes the door, and when he puts his hand on the steering wheel, he hears a whispering voice: Take me for a ride! Take me for a ride! Philip turns around and says, “Abalana, did you say that?” She says, “Say what? I didn't say anything.” Philip puts his hands on the steering wheel and he hears:Take me for a ride! And the car starts up. What should Philip do? Should he jump out as fast as he can?
Stine: Should he put his foot down on the gas pedal?
Stine: Philip's too short. His feet don't reach the gas pedal, but the car starts moving anyway. The car starts rolling down the street. Philip hears,Faster! Faster! The car starts going faster. Philip knows he's in trouble because he lives on a dead end street. And the street ends in a brick wall. Suddenly, Philip looks up; he doesn't know what to do. He can't stop the car. He's heading right for the brick wall. He looks into the mirror and he sees a hideous ghost. What does the ghost look like?
Audience: Blood red, dripping eyes!
Stine: It's a hideous ghost, and Philip doesn't know what to do with the car speeding to the brick wall. Suddenly the car hits a bump and the glove compartment pops open. In it, Philip sees two two things. He sees a rusty old nob and a book called How To Get Rid of Ghosts. Which one should Philip use?
Audience: The book!
Stine: Philip takes the book, opens it, and reads it. The book says: “Use the nob.” Philip takes the nob and he puts it on the radio and clicks it off. When he does, the ghost lets out a hideous scream. What does the scream sound like?
Audience: [Deafening shrieks]
Stine: The ghost disappears. Philip looks out the window, and he's right back in front of his house. He turns back to Abalana, but she's gone too. She disappeared. Do you think she was the ghost?
Stine: Then Philip sees his father with a brand new bike for him. Philip gets on the bike and hears: Take me for a ride!
Image courtesy of the author